Bulls And Bears

S'pore bourse marks time as traders await US data

All eyes on Nov's consumer price index and statement from Federal Reserve

Local shares mostly went sideways yesterday as investors held their fire until key data is released in the United States this week.

All eyes are on the November consumer price index as well as the US Federal Reserve statement, so trading here took a back seat.

However, last-minute buying sent the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) up a paltry 3.23 points or 0.09 per cent to 3,468.77 after having hit an intraday low of 3,451.

The gains clocked in banking, real estate and consumer staple stocks helped the index inch across into positive territory.

Turnover came in at 2.4 billion shares worth $1.1 billion, with losers outpacing gainers 206 to 189.

Analyst Margaret Yang of CMC Markets Singapore said investors and traders would look for signs of how the US central bank strikes the right balance between jobs and inflation.

She said: "Another three hikes are widely expected in 2018 against the backdrop of a booming jobs market and an improved (global economy).

"This expectation, however, is undermined by concerns of tepid inflation. The progression of the tax overhaul is going to play a key role as well, as a tax cut will boost corporate earnings, wage gains and spending, and thus will raise the future inflation outlook."

Despite a strong lead from Wall Street overnight, the region was mixed. Japanese shares closed lower, New Zealand was flat, while equities in Hong Kong, Seoul and Australia finished higher.

Reports of a larger-than-expected drawdown on US oil inventories sent crude prices up. Related local stocks, including Magnus Energy, JEP Holdings and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, were among the most active.

Midas Holdings shot up in morning trade after saying on Tuesday that it had received no official word from the Chinese authorities about a policy change on the expansion of the nation's rail network.

The Singapore Exchange had queried whether its outlook statement still holds, given reports alleging the suspension and halting of plans for railway projects by the Chinese government for certain cities.

Midas shares edged up 0.3 cent to 11.8 cents on a volume of 71 million.

Noble Group rose for a third straight day after reports that the commodity trader is talking to creditors about a restructuring that includes a debt-for-equity swap. The shares rose two cents or 10 per cent to 21 cents, with 30 million units changing hands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore bourse marks time as traders await US data'. Print Edition | Subscribe